Though Google has been pretty open about its upcoming phones at this point in 2021, there’s a device that we’ve seen ample leaks about that they still are holding pretty close to the chest: the Pixel Fold. As a matter of fact, we don’t know that this would be its name if it ever launches and we have zero confirmation that this device will actually make it to market outside of leaks and industry experts promising the the foldable’s eventual arrival.
From what I’ve seen, I’m at least convinced that Google is making a folding phone and that there is a possibility that we might see it before the end of this year. With rumors suggesting that they are using a folding display from Samsung (beginning production in October) along with the same ultra-thin glass that we see in the Galaxy Z Fold, it stands to reason that we could see at least a tease of the Pixel Fold when the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro get their official unveiling in the fall.
Android 12 reveals more Pixel Fold info
Thanks to the internet and those who dig deep to find hidden info in new builds of Android, we know that there are 4 total Pixel models referenced in the Android 12 build files:
- Barbet (Pixel 5a) – G4S1M
- Oriole (Pixel 6) – GR1YH
- Raven (Pixel 6 Pro) – GF5KQ
- Passport (Pixel Fold) – GPQ72
This knowledge has been available since May, so the inclusion of ‘Passport’ in that list up there isn’t new. What is new at this point is a tweet by @cstark27 on Twitter that details the modem info on Pixel 6 models listed above along with an explanation that the mysterious ‘Passport’ device looks to be rocking the exact same modem. As a quick note, there are also reports that the Tensor SoC is actually a specified version of an unused Samsung Exynos processor that goes internally by ‘Whitechapel’. For those who’ve been following along, ‘Whitechapel’ is the early internal name that Tensor went by before its official announcement. With Samsung clearly helping Google build this chip set, it makes total sense that there would be some overlap, here.
Again, with Samsung assisting Google in building the new Tensor SoCs that will power the upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, so it is no surprise that Samsung modems (not Qualcomm’s modems) will be on board these chips. What is telling, here, is the fact that the same modem being shared between the Pixel 6 and ‘Passport’ likely means that ‘Passport’ will indeed share the same Google Tensor chip that the upcoming Pixel phones will come loaded with.
While this isn’t exactly shocking, it does tell me that ‘Passport’ is likely closer than we may think. Google is likely already at work on whatever they’ll call the next version of Tensor and if ‘Passport’ was slated for 2022, they wouldn’t be building it with the current Tensor chip that will power the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Instead, when we combine this info with the industry experts claiming that ‘Passport’ screens will begin production in October, I see a timeline that could have the Pixel Fold in our hands by the end of the year.
Again, this is all rumor for now and fun fodder for conversation. We’ve seen exactly zero renders thus far and as we all know, that is pretty odd for Google. As a hardware company, Google leaks like a rusty old ship, so it makes me a tad bit dubious that they are far enough along on the new, foldable phone to launch in a few months and nothing has leaked out yet. I hope I’m wrong about that because a surprise unveiling at the fall hardware event would be beyond epic at this point. With the massive excitement surrounding the new Pixel phones, perhaps they can deflect attention on other efforst and effectively keep ‘Passport’ under wraps until then. We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?